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  Sim City 3000
…after a campaign to win the mayoral seat, you are now set to direct the citizens of your SimCity. Handpicked and talented advisors sit by your right hand to keep you up to date and offer advice when necessary. Your palette of tools is more extensive than any mayor in history has ever had available in living memory. The balance of power resides at your whim as you prepare to take your city to the year 3000…
Preamble...

When I discovered that SimCity Classic was available to play on my browser, I couldn't load the URL fast enough. Sure enough, memories came back of balanced decisions and patient waiting- and sometimes the opposite. So what could happen with the addition of some 1000 years to the SC2K edition? It seems that the people at Maxis have not simply popped up with a new game concept for SimCity 3000 (SC3K). After much intense reviewing of their past products, they have taken the game to a more enhanced feel by incorporating current technology with the basics used before. The opening intro of a building on fire, helicopter swinging into view and then a fire engine screaming to the scene as the camera pans back to the title graphic sets the stage.

Companyline...

Recreate your version of the world's greatest cities using landscapes such as San Francisco or Berlin and landmark buildings like the Empire State Building or Big Ben. To put your stamp on your city, create your own unique buildings using the SimCity Building Architect Tool. Then zoom in close to your metropolis as it comes to life with people and traffic in living color and full 3D sound. All new missions and cool disasters test your abilities to run your city or even destroy it. For more challenge, negotiate and barter with neighboring cities to strengthen your metropolis.

SimCity 3000, the city is yours.

And there are some extras available...

To add new landmarks to your game, you must first download and install the latest version of the SC3K Plug-in Tool. (Note: You only need to download and install the Plug-in Tool once. After that, you can add as many Landmark Packs as you like.)

Gameplay...

The opening page gives a number of options for you to immerse yourself in SC3K. You may wish to chose a "Starter City" and tweak it further into a roaring metropolis, "Start a New City" and create from the ground up, "Load City" and continue from where you left off or "Real City Terrain" where you will have the greatest amount of control (which is where all the tweak freaks will live!).

With over 400 buildings to be placed on a maximum of 100 square miles (four times that of SC2K), you will be seeing more variety than ever. And see you must because as you zoom in, there are some real delights to enjoy. Go to the suburbs and you will experience the 'hood'. People pushing baby carriages and dogs barking make a very real ambience. Industrial areas show people heaving beams and the sound of traffic and general noise. And check the traffic! If it's congested and you have cross walk guards enabled, you will see long lineups at intersections as each street empties and pedestrians cross. This is where SC3K shows its best side.

But the basics are still here from the classic SimCity and SC2K. You must zone residential, commercial and industrial with balance depending on the RCI meter and your budget. With SC3K, each zone has three different densities (light, medium and dense) for you to pick from and to build up with. Civil services must be considered to keep things like crime and fire under control as well as the population's happiness. Education and health are dealt with as well by placing schools, hospitals and the like. Control these services via budgets and you can get maximum effect for your money. If you feel that things are growing out of hand, a nice feature I really liked was the ability to make a building or site 'historical' which prevents it from evolving further.

Transportation is still one of the most important decisions you will make in laying out your city. If you start in year 1900, standard roads and rail is all you get. Later, bus stops, subway and freeways show up to allow Sims to travel faster and farther. Laying these out properly can be tricky, as you will need to eat up some real estate to accomplish your needs. Subways don't conflict with the water pipes I'm happy to report but the Stations and Sub to Rail connectors need room on the surface. Freeways mean getting those caterpillars out flattening out some of your hard-earned development. I found that placing onramps were fairly difficult but a visit to the Maxis website solved that. You will need to understand how the terrain editor works so that you will be able to smooth out areas (e.g. laying subways and waterpipes across rivers).

Airports and seaports are essential for mayors that want BIG CITIES and I had to learn what turns them into winning propositions. Seaports need to be only one level above sea level so that the docks can be installed properly. Put road and rail right into the zoned area for good measure. Expect a fair amount of pollution to boot. And DON'T zone residential nearby. Other than the land level, airports work very similarly to seaports. I did notice that the aircraft flying out of my airport were mid-1900's era and I was past Y2K already. Realism detail that could have been tweaked. Actually this was true for most transportation.

Yes, pollution is a very big consideration in SC3K. Don't address it and you will not like what you see when you zoom in on a neighborhood. Garbage will pile up visibly and people start heading out of town. Put a garbage dump in and if you’re too close to homes, there they go again! The same goes for incinerators and their like. People make the garbage but don't want the responsibility for it. You can enact some ordinances to help things here but that can lead to complaints. NIMBY (Not in my backyard) at its' finest!

After plunking down some zones and services, you can't just sit there and watch it grow into your dream hamlet or ghetto. Traffic starts getting out of hand, Sim citizens whine about what your not giving them, merchants want that noisy airport zoned, power starts to get outstripped and lots more. You're kept on your toes steady in SC3K as you watch the news ticker reports and answer queries from your advisors- all seven of them. They have over 600 messages available to send you that will make your eight-hour days in office turn into 24-hour marathons. Even neighboring mayors will be bugging you to sell your water, divert your power or buy their garbage.

Once you start becoming great (in city size that is), its time to consider the "Landmarks". Think of having the World Trade Center in the center of your Commercial district. Just think of all that tourism and business generated. Over 70 landmarks are available and more can be downloaded at Maxis' website (see URL above). SC3K is still all about land value and if you listen to your advisors, and budget willing, the parks and fountains are still as necessary as they were in SC2K. I found that industrial areas were very prone to going downhill (considering pollution, looks, and real estate usage) and to get efficient usage of these areas meant good planning.

So things are motoring along smoothly, too smoothly. Time to hit that Disaster button and put your emergency services to work. Pick the flavor of disaster and then go to the scene. Nail the siren to alert the Sim citizens and the News Ticker goes wild. What, no coverage by your police or fire dept?! Click the appropriate icon and set it over the endangered zone and they will attempt to deal with it. Unless of course those guys from Centauri IV show up to create the crop circles in your commercial core.

In the End...

This game is real eyecandy if anything. I have to mention that my system is nothing to write home about (P166MMX w/96MbRAM) but it ran pretty nice overall in software mode. I did find that SC3K didn't get along with my Monster3D but that really didn't bother me. You will spend as much time just looking at the details as playing it. I found that I could set the game speed to 'Turtle' and just browse around. If I wanted to see the effect of some change I did, Cheetah sped things up just fine. Though multiplayer is all the rage on the Net, SC3K really shines for the single player gamer and frankly I don't mind that some kid isn't whipping my butt with his PIII and cable modem. This new version has much more to offer in variety and is likely to hold your attention for longer and better than before. I understand that the Building Architect Tool will allow SC3K users to create buildings of their own. This feature is likely to be hugely popular among gamers (excellent move Maxis!).

The thing is that SC3K is a nicer, safer, cuddlier SC2K and if you enjoyed any of the previous SimCities, I guarantee that this current version is going to make you much happier. If you 'are' getting SC3K or currently own it, I suggest going to the Maxis site and read some excellent advice from them and other gamers on how to improve your game; it's really worth it. Enough said, I'm off to get back at my desk job as Mayor.

Review ID Number: 234
  Product Details
Maxis
Review Date: 2001-04-18
Reviewer: Nick Sardy
Rating: 9 out of 10
 
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